Most people do not isolate and anesthetize themselves because they are happily living life; they participate in this self-abuse because they are hiding from life. They are trying to fill an emptiness within. If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in poor company, and many people are poor in the deepest and most internal sense. They will do anything to avoid being left alone with their thoughts, being left alone to Thoreau’s quiet desperation, or worn down by the unforgiving and brutish world described by Hobbes. They are teetering on emotional bankruptcy and, though they do not realize it, they are living with the haunting but quiet realization that they are not answering the calls for help from those in need. They have a nagging feeling that they have not yet experienced all of what life has to offer. They want more in their relationships; more money and more success. They try to force these things, and when they do not materialize, they become negative and pessimistic. The harder they try, the further away the things they want seem to move. They do not realize that all success comes through other people. It can seem counterintuitive when you learn that you get most things in life not by taking, but by giving. Giving is the key to all success in all applications of human life. The act of true giving is indistinguishable from receiving. Giving yourself is the ultimate revolution! Giving is not a physical action; giving is a philosophy, and a way of living life. There are endless opportunities to give the smallest things that cost us nothing, but have great value to other people. Money and time are not the only things we can give. We can give others appreciation, patience, compassion, courtesy, kindness, dependability, friendship, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, loyalty, respect, tolerance and, of course – unconditional love.
Courtesy is such a powerful and amazing gift to give. Courtesy is a silver lining around the dark clouds of civilization; it is the best part of refinement and, in many ways, an art of heroic beauty in the vast gallery of man’s cruelty and baseness. Good manners are appreciated as much as bad manners are abhorred, and a polite enemy is just as difficult to discredit, as a rude friend is to protect. Mastering courtesy alone will enhance your life and the lives of others. We can give a tired clerk a kind and understanding glance. We can give a frustrated driver a spot in line on the road. We can give a hopeful passerby a kind smile and wave. We can speak to people at all stations of life with respectful and polite words and tones. We can wait with one item in the grocery line behind someone with a full cart with a gentle smile, and body language that makes their day better. When we want to talk, we can instead listen, and let our attentiveness to another’s need to speak be our silent statement. All of these simple but powerful gifts have immense value to the person receiving them, and all are examples of an overarching philosophy of giving and service that we can each apply in our lives every day. Simply by thinking about something other than ourselves, and by monitoring our behaviors with a pure and selfless intent of making the lives of other people better, we have the privileged opportunity to change them for the better.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have a debt to the society in which we live. If we want to succeed in society at anything, we must first pay our debt to society. But here is the most important part; our debt never ends. We must pay it each and every day for the rest of our lives. Once you realize this, no matter your philosophical or religious framework, whether it be the golden rule of Christianity, the view of biochemical inducement of self-preservation through the sociological laws of reciprocity, the “Mystical Law” of Karma (the universal law of ethical causation), Confucian Shu reciprocity, good old horse sense of the law of the harvest, or any other world-view construct of the same concept, life will start working for you rather than against you. Life has a way of shining on people who stand in the sunshine of kind actions. But you can’t fake it. It has to come from the heart, with a true spirit of giving and selflessness. A talent is no talent, unless it is used for the benefit of other people. Even if you consider your talents a blessing, they may work against you if you do not properly use your precious gifts for the benefit of others. For a moment in this brief existence, we have the privilege to share time with other people, and serve them and their needs. The greatest joys in life are found not only in what we do and feel, but also in our quiet hopes and labors for others. The trees which are pruned, watered and nurtured by caring hands bear the greatest fruits; it is the same with people. It is critical to know that service heals the recipient and the giver. If you have not been served personally by caring hands in your own life, do not be bitter, but instead, ask yourself who you can now serve. If you have had some tough times in life, now more than ever is the time to make someone else’s life better. Reject the role of the victim and become the healer and teacher. How we treat other people changes them, but even more so, how we treat other people changes us. This is the wondrous gift of giving; through this act, we receive an important part of our own identity. A person is defined by their actions and intent, and being social creatures, outside of our own useless self-image, the only proof that we exist resides in the minds of other people we change with our actions. So, ask yourself, “How do I change people?” Seek to change people for the better, and and have your existence proved by the raised hands of the people you have served, who will say without doubt that you have cared.
To be of value to us all, our highest ideals need to be made real in the world. We should speak to protect the ideals of goodness, and act to make them real in the world. The first proves a consummate mind, the second a valorous heart. True progress for humanity is anything that takes us closer to supporting one another. Small acts of kindness between you and the individuals around you are the germination that springs into being something as mysterious as life itself, and what may in fact be humanity’s greatest accomplishment – compassion for others. Let us all strive to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful desire to ease the burdens of others. Every person is a precious gift, and we are all like little children who yearn for acceptance, safety, and unconditional love. Let us all reach out with a hope that we could each bring some degree of happiness to other human beings. Let each of us lead a revolution of support in the lives of others.
Many people are now sensing that something important is happening in the world. People are talking, and they “feel” something; they are picking up on something they cannot articulate, but they know it is there. Let’s define it before it gets here. Let us enjoin our energy with the good-spirited people around the world in our deepest and most sincere desire to share our own unique gifts, where our greatest achievements are counted as the simple acts that touch, heal and elevate the world for the greater good of all! Share this with someone you love and be blessed!